Several members of The Bivings Group team are present at the 2008 Personal Democracy Forum, which aims to prove that technology is changing the way that we do politics.  Currently, I am sitting in a forum titled "Clickocracy" which hosts four journalistically inclined panelists: Jose Antonio Vargas, Ben Smith, Ana Marie Cox, and Sarah Lai Stirland.

One of the most interesting things about the forum is that it takes full advantage of Web 2.0 tools.  In the background of the panelists is a large screen which displays questions and comments submitted by the audience in real-time.  The moderator (Jeff Jarvis) attempts to ask as many of these questions as possible, while searching through the numerous "Obama FTW!!!" comments.  What is it about anonymity on the Internet that turns everyone into a five-year-old?

Topics covered on the panel included the newest tools (Twitter!), the now famous My.Barack.Obama site, and if the number of Facebook friends can determine the outcome of an election.

A large majority of the conversation centered on the new definition of a "journalist".  After all, now that anyone can post anything on the Web, is there a true definition of a "journalist"?  Arguments have raged back and forth that journalism is a dying art that anyone can now pursue, from an 85-year-old widow to an 8-year-old kid, to the fact that 'true journalism' is now more important than ever.

In my opinion, the rise of blogging and other online forms or conversation has only helped me to weed out the bad writers from the good ones.  Instead of having to accept the only available journalism as the best of the bunch, I can now pick for myself.  In this way, the authors who have gone to journalism school, possess a sheer talent, or simply work harder than their counterparts stand out.  The rise of the semi-pro journalist, as one panelist coined, has only made me appreciate the fully-pro ones more.

As Hosam (another TBG employee) said at the end of the forum, "You can tell that those panelists really love what they do."